Together - CODAworx

Together

Client: City of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Completion date: 2023

Project Team

Principal Designer / Fabricator

Ryan Swanson

The Urban Conga

Principal Designer

Maeghann Coleman

The Urban Conga

Designer / Fabricator

Juan Esparza

The Urban Conga

Designer

Alden Copley

The Urban Conga

Designer

Lea Papillon

The Urban Conga

Fabricator

Brianne De La Torre

The Urban Conga

Client

City of Pittsburgh

Local Community Storyteller

Alyssa Velazquez

Overview

Together was created to serve as a community table, a place for people to listen, learn, and connect with one another around the past, present, and future of Highland Park in Pittsburgh, PA. The design contains a series of stepped surfaces that wrap and frame two existing old ash trees that sit within the site. The two trees anchor the work to the natural landscape while also serving as natural shade for the space during the summer. The installation’s flowing 30’L x 17’W x 6’H form carves out three communal gathering spaces within the landscape that encourage group interaction; the undulating surfaces serve as a table, a bench, a stage, and more for the community to make their own. Even though the installation is fixed, it becomes transformative to its user creating an everchanging experience that keeps people coming back to use the space in new ways. The design of the pattern cut into the surfaces of the platform was generated from images of water ripples to create a feeling of movement within the work and space. As light passes through the work throughout the day, a cascade of light ripples and moves along the ground. The installation’s transparency allows it to blend with the natural environment while providing a visual landmark within the landscape.

Goals

Together's location, adjacent to the Highland Park pool and Lake Carnegie, was highlighted by the community as a critical area in the park that is often used by different demographics of people participating in a variety of activities that do not necessarily engage with one another. The playscape is designed to serve as a connector not only between the physical spaces but between the people utilizing these spaces. It is designed as a multifunctional landmark that utilizes its open-ended play design to break down social barriers and begin to connect people with each other and the park itself. It becomes not just a visual destination but a functional additive component for the park that becomes a communal hub for social activity. The surrounding spaces are used for vendors, barbecues, parties, and more in isolated situations, so the work is designed to become an additive component to help interconnect these activities and bring people closer together. The goal is that the installation serves as a bridge for social connection and continues to further unify the community of Pittsburgh.

Process

The design was developed through a series of participatory design workshops with the Highland Park community and surrounding areas that utilized play methodologies such as gamification and imaginative play to collect communal stories, values, and feedback. This communal dialog was used to develop every component within the design of the work. The Urban Conga also worked with local Pittsburgh community storyteller Alyssa Velazquez who created a zine that is being utilized as a post evaluation tool of the work. The zine walks one through the process of the work being implemented in Highland Park as well as the parks history while also leaving a space for the community to reflect their thoughts.